John Mongan sat inside his favorite restaurant on a Saturday night in January. He was there to watch the Ravens game, but he was mostly alone.
Mongan went to Costa’s Inn on Jan. 16 to watch Baltimore’s NFL Divisional playoff game in Buffalo, New York, against the Bills. The Ravens lost the game 17-3, ending for them the 2020-21 NFL season.
Like the football game, favored locales for watching football in Dundalk were mostly uneventful. This past November, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. signed an executive order mandating all bars restaurants to close at 10 p.m. The first half of Saturday night’s game ended just before closing time.
“I like being around other football fans and watching the game,” said Mongan, 72, a lifelong Edgemere resident.
“I’ve been coming here for 30 years. I like the family that runs the place. They treat me good when I come in and make me feel at home. It’s like Cheers.”
Costa’s Inn, which has been in business for nearly 50 years, was one of several local businesses forced to close at 10 p.m. Pete Triantafilos, whose family owns the restaurant, said the past year has been challenging. He and his family were forced to reinvent their business model when the COVID-19 pandemic began last March.
The decision was made to close the bar after the pandemic began.. Saturday night, barstools were turned upside down and placed on top of the bar. It has looked that way for months. Triantafilos said the bar does remain open for carry-out, however, so that the restaurant can remain compliant with customer safety guidelines.
“It’s been very challenging, to say the least, he said.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the community and a lot of support from our regular customers who have been coming in for carry-out. We’ll just maintain this until things get better.”
Triantafilos said his family has had to confront challenges in the past, although the one they face is not like ones they’ve seen before, he said. The dissolution of Bethlehem Steel is one that he named. The number of employees dwindled, until the number was reduced to zero, when the steelmaker officially closed in 2003. Another challenge he named was the financial recession in 2008.
“This is obviously the most challenging of all, and our main objective is to keep everybody safe, keep our employees working and just ride this through until things get better.”
The game began at 8:15 p.m., leaving less than two hours of broadcast time for customers to sit and watch. Triantafilos said the late start and early closing hurt business for him Saturday night. Normally, things tend to be busy on Saturday nights, he said. The restaurant can still host indoor dining at 50 percent capacity. Several more customers will order from the restaurant via carry-out or delivery, he said. This wasn’t the case during the playoff game.
“It’s definitely a game-changer from what we’re used to,” he said.
Costa’s Inn wasn’t the only place in the community affected by the late kickoff and early closing. When the game began, six people were inside the Seasoned Mariner on Wise Avenue, including the restaurant staff.
The bridge on Wise Avenue is currently under construction and will remain closed for the next several weeks. The unfortunate closing already hinders access to The Seasoned Mariner. The restaurant declined to comment.
The Muddy Beaver, located at 5200 North Point Blvd., had a higher turnout during the game, albeit around 20 people. The Ravens played a home playoff game on a Saturday night this same time last year. The difference between that game and the one played this past weekend was significant, according to BJ Hancock, a barback and part of the security team at The Muddy Beaver.
“It was packed in here,” Hancock told the Eagle. “Last year, it was definitely more packed. We’re taking a big hit with this.”
“I can’t put a number on it. I know it’s a substantial amount.”
Hancock said the establishment shut down completely when the pandemic began. It eventually reopened, and business has been steady, but nowhere near how it was before the pandemic, he said. Loyal customers are keeping it open, he added.
Hancock said everyone at the establishment is excited to return to a “pre-COVID normal,” although when that is to happen is still to be determined. For most of the people employed at The Muddy Beaver, most of their money comes from tips, Hancock said.
“Having things wide open again would definitely bring money back into their households,” he said.